United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)
Environment Outlook-1 - The Web version

Chapter 3: Policy Responses and Directions

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Summary of Regional Policy Responses

Refining Environmental Policy

Command-and-control systems tend to function more effectively when addressing sectoral environmental problems. The sectoral nature of much environmental legislation and the short-term success of end-of-pipe solutions when treating site-specific environmental problems have historically reinforced the application of command-and-control mechanisms in isolation. As most countries are now aware, sustainable development and general environmental well-being are complex, integrated problems requiring cradle-to-grave solutions and public participation. Comprehensive environmental policies that take account of this are therefore gaining favour in many regions. Greater co-or<%0>dination of effort between national environment-related authorities is also becoming evident world-wide.

With command and control policies firmly in place, and long experience in their use, a number of regions are exploring alternative and supplementary strategies to augment environmental quality and further protect the health and well-being of their citizens. Alternative strategies are projected to be more cost effective than the further expansion and reliance on command and control approaches.

Innovative approaches to environmental policy formulation are now evident in North America and Europe, and emerging in Asia and the Pacific and certain countries in Latin America and the Caribbean. In North America, the creation of better environments for voluntary action has resulted in a multitude of alternative policy responses. Concepts founded on common sense,<|> innovation and flexibility are leading to creative partnerships between government authorities and society. These partnerships to environmental problem-solving rely on the use of market incentives and encourage the application of innovative, cost-effective, cleaner production technologies and processes.

In Europe, for example, industrial groupings have adopted responsible care programmes, and public participation is now firmly embedded in policy and decision-making processes. Pan-European capacity building programmes also operate to forward environmental management and economic development, including the development of regulatory frameworks and restructuring of higher education.

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